Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Mike Reisz from Cresson, TX

What’s your favorite lesson on Ben’s site?
That is a straightforward question, but unfortunately, I don’t have a simple answer. If you had asked me that years ago, the answer would have been one of the many cool breaks that I never could play to a speed and fluidity that would have satisfied me. Looking back, the lessons that now stick out for me are some of the more “boring” lessons such as guitar backup lessons, mandolin chops and even mandolin ballad backup. They aren’t the sexiest topics, but they are the types of lessons that have probably filtered most into my everyday playing. For example, this weekend I am playing guitar for a non-bluegrass set that has a few songs that I haven’t played before. One of the songs requires prominent and precise bass line playing combined with strumming. The muscle memory developed in working through Ben’s fundamentals courses improved my accuracy to where it makes such a song to be relatively easily achievable. One of my best bluegrass jam experiences was the week I got my mandolin. I worked through the chop videos and brought my brand new mando to the jam. ALL I could do was chop. I had a blast that entire weekend-long jam where I didn’t play a single break (I don’t think I picked up a guitar the whole time). With that said, I love the wide variety of lessons. Bag O’ Licks are awesome. Build a breaks are great… just pick a level that suits you AND you learn how to make your breaks tasty. I love the Christmas stuff. I have gotten great mileage out of many of the fingerstyle arrangements and if I paid Ben a royalty for every time I played one of those somewhere, Ben could buy some nice stuff. Let me close this simple question with this: Ben is a wonderfully gifted player, arranger, composer and tasteful musician. There are very few that are gifted as he is AND are also phenomenal teachers. Ben is a unicorn (and also a great guy). Picking my favorite lesson would be like picking my favorite sunset.

What’s your instrument of choice and what was your inspiration to learn how to play?
Guitar is my most frequent victim. My formative years were the 1970’s, and I think about 99% of kids from that era wanted to play guitar. Being from the bluegrass state put the appropriate sounds in my ear that eventually led me to Ben.

What’s your goal when playing?
Typically, to do something others might want to hear. I like to serve others with music. I strive to bring praise to God through music. I play a fair amount at hospitals, nursing homes, and memorials, and It is a blessing to have a guitar in your hands when you can’t find the right words to say. Some of my most memorable music experiences have been with very small groups or individuals.

How long have you been playing?
About 40 years.

What’s your favorite hobby?
I have no simple answer. I am all over the place.

How long have you been a Gold Pick member?
I first saw Ben in a uTube video that looked like it was shot in a hotel room. He literally held his hand-drawn tab up to the web cam to share it. About that time, he launched his site and I have been a Gold Pick member since then. He was phenomenal at breaking things down even then. He spent years improving his product and his production, but the basics of wanting to teach still remain. Sniff…excuse me for a moment…I think I have something in my eye.

What do you do for a living?
I am a computer programmer, so I’ll share a ridiculously geeky joke:
There are 10 types of people in the world… those that know binary and those that do not.


Congrats Mike! Nice to see you’re a fellow computer nerd. I don’t think I knew that about you. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Congrats Mike. Always great to meet Ben’s follower’s

1 Like

Hey Mike,
Nice to know more about you! Had to laugh with your memory of Ben holding up hand drawn tabs for the camera in the hotel rooms. From humble beginnings to great things.

1 Like

Congratulations Mike and welcome!

1 Like

Has @BanjoBen told you about the all expense trip to Nashville for GPOTW persons? Don’t let him hold out.


Yeah, he said something about going to Artisan Guitars or Gruhn’s and picking out an instrument. I wasn’t sure what that he was talking about :grinning:

For any who may be wondering… the above is a joke. You don’t really get to pick out a Lloyd Loar F5 just by being a Gold Pick member.


Hahahaha, guys I do wish it were the case, though.

Good to see you as this week’s gold pick member Mike! Congrats!

If everyone could hear how good that D-18 sounds! Even better than it looks or maybe a tie.

I remember the YouTube video you speak of. He’s done good hasn’t he?


1 Like

Nice to meet you, @Mike_R! It’s nice to hear from one of the original gold pick members. Keep on pickin!

1 Like

I’m seriously bummed that Mike decided not to feature his Hello Kitty guitar during his star turn. :grinning:

Seriously though, looking good Mike. Keep on keepin’ On.

Indeed, Ben has done quite well.

I guess I could doctor the photo to give the guitar the Hello Kitty treatment :grinning:

All is right in the world again.



Congrats Mike! Love the binary joke!

Why do programmers get Halloween and Christmas mixed up?
Because 31 Oct = 25 Dec

If only DEAD people understand hexadecimal, how many people understand hexadecimal?

:rofl: Thank you!

1 Like

That is fantastic!!! I really appreciate the ears. Nice touch :joy:


He promised me a signed picture of him from the Taylor Swift era. Hipster hair and all.

1 Like

Congrats Mike! Enjoyable profile!

1 Like